Game, set and match

Great Britain's Pippa Horn in action

Great Britain's Pippa Horn in action - Credit: PA

Norfolk has a burgeoning tennis scene and in recent years there has been a huge drive to attract new players young and old.

Richard Palmer, honorary secretary of the Norfolk Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), says there are around 2200 under 18 players registered in Norfolk. “Our aims for the coming years are to get as many people playing as possible, whether that is children, people with both learning or physical disabilities or older people. We want to try to break down this old-fashioned stereotype about tennis, that it is stuffy and expensive. It is just not true.”

There are 40 LTA registered clubs in the county and many more places to play, such as parks, recreation grounds and village community centres. “Tennis is a game for life, you can start when you are four and you carry on playing well into old age - we have a county team for the over 75s. It is great for your fitness, encourages a healthy lifestyle and it is also very sociable,” he says.

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On court

At the age of 15, Pippa Horn from West Harling, put Norfolk tennis on the map when she became the youngest ever national junior champion, which was followed by a place in the junior tournament at Wimbledon.

Now 18, she is embarking on the next stage of her career in the States, where she won a tennis scholarship at the university of Texas at Austin. She first picked up a racquet as a four-year-old with her mum.

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“I think in about Year Five of primary school when I started to miss a few of the core classes to play tennis and people would watch me practice, that it hit home that I was actually pretty good,” she says. She trains six days a week and her decision to move to America will, she hopes, help her achieve her ambition of becoming a professional player. “I am currently studying economics and French, and I hope to graduate, then go on to play professional tennis. Being there has without a doubt helped my tennis, particularly with all the match play that we get.”

She plays for the university team and aims to play in the top two of that team.

“I would love to be playing number one in my senior year and hopefully winning a large number of those matches. To play number one at a top university like mine is a very high standard and a lot of these girls who were at that level went on to do very well in the Women’s Tennis Association tour.”

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